Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm, when talking about elder abuse issues, explains that the biggest challenge to stamping out such neglect is simply getting victims to come forward. For every Illinois nursing home abuse case that is brought, there are likely a hundred similar victims that go without any notice. For a wide range of reasons-many of which we have discussed on this blog-victims often do not come forward and demand redress and accountability. This creates a two-fold problem. On one hand, the individual victims are never able to see any justice, often dying without their family having any idea of the suffering that they endured at the end. Also, the underreporting of such errors means that the wrongdoers are not held accountable and they instead remain free to continue working (and neglecting) others. It is often a vicious cycle that is very difficult to break.
Of course raising awareness is the first step in the process of turning things around. We often share statistics which reveal how many seniors are victimized each and every year. The numbers are stark and indicate the problem of elder abuse has reached, as many advocates explain, “epidemic proportions.” Yet, statistics are often the least effective way of raising awareness and harnessing the real emotional response needed to actually make a difference and spur individuals to step up for the seniors around them.
A more effective strategy is to share individual stories that can more easily be grasped by those hearing them. For example, as we discussed last week, it is shocking to read a story about a senior who was strapped to a bed, left in a trailer, and forced to lay immobile while animals literally ate parts of her body. That elder abuse is so mind-numbingly wrong that it hopefully leads community members to pay a bit more attention to those seniors in particularly vulnerable conditions around them.
Even more powerful than reading about personal stories of neglect is seeing video of those stories. Being able to hear the voices and see the faces of those hurt by these actions goes a long way to engraining the idea that this mistreatment must be stopped in all possible ways. Toward that end, a new CARP Special Report video was created entitled, “Elder Abuse: Does Anyone Care?” The video explores powerful themes of abuse, mistreatment, and neglect that have raged in various locations. For example, the video shares that story of one woman who was left in a garage in the middle of winter, without heat, and forced to sleep on a plywood bed. In addition, the documentary shows video of nursing home abuse. A caregiver is seen physically harming a resident for no apparent reason. A hidden camera caught the abuse of the woman who was confined to a wheelchair. Amazingly the video displayed a caregiver literally punching the woman repeatedly-it remains unclear why the attacks occurred at all.
Please take the time to view the entire video, and share it with others who may be interested.
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